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Library Databases Search Widgets - Bringing Search to Your Students

Screen shot 2010-10-27 at 12.07.52 PM.pngA few weeks ago we wrote a short article about how to embed widgets into your course web site. A particularly useful category of embeddable widgets is "library database search tools".

Example: Pre-Defined, Single Service Search

Many of Columbia's database subscriptions offer tools to create widgets, which can then be embedded into course sites.

For example, this is a widget that will do a search on Ebsco, a reference database provider to which Columbia subscribes:

If you click "Search" in the form above you'll see results returned from Ebsco that pertain to "sustainability".

Click here to see the code for the search box above.

See an example of the same widget in action in Edblogs here (look at the lower left column to see the Ebsco search):

Other prominent databases that allow search widgets are:

When using third-party tools, keep in mind that some of them are restricted to on-campus use and that the Columbia Libraries may not subscribe to all of the sub-databases that the vendor offers in its list of options.

Example: Custom Columbia Tools - Multi-Database Searches

Though vendor widgets are an easy way to search within databases, Columbia Library's Find Articles (formerly MetaLib) deep linking tools can facilitate searches across many databases. There are two ways to create Find Articles search widgets: the first consists of librarian-curated resources by subject area and the second allows users to select specific journals from a long list of subscription services.

The following example searches a librarian curated list of six databases that relate to film and moving image scholarship that were chosen by Columbia's librarians:

Custom Search: Six Film Databases

If you click "GO" in the form above you'll see nearly 60 results returned from various film-related databases that pertain to the terms "Hitchcock Leigh".

See the code for the search box above.

Find Articles searches will draw only on Columbia-subscribed database sources with links that are accessible on- or off-campus.


Keep in mind that you may embed more than search widget in any page. So if you want to mix-and-match librarian-curated searches, a self-defined searches across multiple database providers, or simple searches within a single provider's services, you may do so. If there is something specific that you'd like to try in your Columbia course or if you need a hand getting started, please be in touch with CCNMTL's educational technologists or a library selector.